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->''"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. [[ToWinWithoutFighting To subdue the enemy without fighting]] is the acme of skill."''
-->-- '''Sun Tzu''', ''Literature/TheArtOfWar''

Fights aren't always won with guns, swords, and may in fact not require any kind of physical combat whatsoever; outsmarting your opponent can be just as effective. Battling this way also saves resources -- especially if it's a CombatByChampion of the highest-ranking members of each side. Even if not, it's easier to recover from almost being outsmarted and getting your pride wounded than almost getting outfought and getting your leg (or an even more vital body part) wounded. And some play it well enough to never get wounded in the first place.

This is a staple tactic of TheChessmaster, the GuileHero and the ManipulativeBastard alike and one way for the InsufferableGenius to prove himself. The SuperTrope to ThePlan. Someone who loses the Battle Of Wits are OutGambitted. Winners are often {{Badass Pacifist}}s. If both combatants are [[SuperIntelligence particularly brilliant]], can easily descend/ascend into GambitRoulette or XanatosSpeedChess.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* The FinalBattle of ''Anime/CodeGeass R2'' takes place on many levels (including large-scale army maneuvers and one-on-one duels) but the most important is the battle of wits between Lelouch and [[spoiler:his brother Schneizel]].
* Any fight in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''. Raw power is great and all, but the truly dangerous [[FightingSpirit Stand]] [[PsychicPowers users]] are the ones who use [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway weak or peculiar abilities]] to [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower devastating effect.]]
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' heavily focuses on this, the characters always go to battle with detailed plans or have to come up with something on the spot. The plans and thoughts that characters have during battle are always carefully explained, and very often they have to deal with things not going the intended way.
* ''Manga/LiarGame'''s whole plot is a battle of wits par excellence.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' had this as its entire focus. Well, that and Light [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope doing cartwheels off the slippery slope...]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII: AdventChildren'' sets up a battle of wits between Rufus Shinra and Kadaj. Kadaj believes Rufus to have recovered the remains of Jenova and to be hiding them somewhere, whereas he claims them to have been lost. The two keep hanging out exchanging quips and platitudes in a way that definitely suggests there is supposed to be a battle of wits going on, but they don't actually ''do'' much beyond that. Meanwhile, Kadaj's gang's brilliant plan to find Jenova consists of running around causing random trouble like the superpowered juvenile delinquents they are. In the end, [[spoiler: Rufus reveals that he's been sitting with the remains of Jenova hidden on his wheelchair the whole time.]]
* Once every two ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' fights turn out this way.
* There are several cases of this in ''Manga/DragonBall'', especially when there is [[TournamentArc tournament]] because in that case, it's always about who can outsmart their opponent the quickest that usually is the winner.

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[[folder: Collectible Card Game ]]

* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has a [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=83133 card]] by this name. Basically "I win because I know so much."

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Subverted with the Trial of Head, Hand and Heart in ''ElfQuest''. Rayek's solution to the Trial of Head is clearly smarter than Cutter's, but Cutter wins by luck. Rayek justifiably complains, but Savah, who's officiating, lets it slide because she knows the upcoming Trial of Heart will be more decisive.
* ComicBook/SpiderMan's favorite tactic for dealing with foes stronger than him.
* ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'': John Constantine battles his foes by outwitting them rather than fighting them head on.

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[[folder: Fan Fics ]]

* Surprisingly enough, most of the battles in the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'' are quite strategic in nature. The most prominent example would have to be the battle between Piedmon and Gallantmon. Which essentially involved Piedmon using every dirty trick he could think of and Takato [[XanatosSpeedChess adapting to and countering these moves]], all while engaged in an ''awesome'' midair duel.
* ''FanFic/DeathNoteEquestria'', being (as the name suggests) an adaptation of ''Death Note'' with ponies, naturally has this as the core conflict between [[VillainProtagonist Twilight Sparkle]] and [[HeroAntagonist L]].

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[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/ThePrincessBride'': Westley's iocane powder game with Vizzini.
* From ''{{Diggstown}}''
-->''before the 10th fight''\\
Gillon: Never try and hustle a hustler, Mr. Caine! \\
''after the 10th fight''\\
Caine: Actually, I believe it goes: [[IronicEcho Never con a con-man]]. Especially one who's better than you are.
* ''HuntingHumans'' is about a battle of wits between two CrazyPrepared, supposedly ingenious {{serial killer}}s, [[AwesomeMcCoolname Aric and Dark]]. The fact that this information comes form a ''SomethingAwful'' [[http://www.somethingawful.com/d/movie-reviews/hunting-humans.php review]] might suggest something about how well it works.
* In ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows'', the final confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty is [[spoiler: Holmes initiating his SherlockScan to win the battle in his mind before winning it in reality, but Moriarty suddenly undercuts Holmes' strategizing with his own, so it's both of them having a fight in their minds. They both come to the conclusion that Holmes can't win the fight because of his injury, so the actual fight never happens because Holmes decides to TakeAThirdOption and pull himself and Moriarty over the railings and off a cliff.]]

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* Sun Tzu's ''Literature/TheArtOfWar'' is practically a ''[[StrategyGuide handbook]]'' for these.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** ''Discworld/GoingPostal''. Moist von Lipwig vs Reacher Gilt
** Lord Vetinari vs... ''Everyone''
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': Harry Dresden has a lot of these. While there is invariably a good deal of action involved, he seldom (especially as the series progresses and he plans more carefully) rushes into a confrontation with absolutely no plan whatsoever. The main plan inevitably ends up going wrong to one extent or another, but even if his backup plan ends up being completely useless as well, the nature of magical combat means there'll always be a XanatosSpeedChess element to the confrontation that prevent it from being a pure slugfest.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre ]]

* In ''Theatre/DerRingDesNibelungen'''s third opera: ''Siegfried'', Wotan (initially disguised as a wanderer) challenges the dwarf Mime to a "Battle of Wits", with the wager being the loser's head, after the dwarf refuses to give him hospitality (all of thing was actually a scheme from Wotan who needed to give Mime an important information, the mere "Battle of Wits" was too with the purpose of Mime getting the information).

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[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}''. InsufferableGenius? Franchise/SherlockHolmes. Obsession with complex crimes? Sherlock Holmes. Similarly intelligent [[TheRival rival]]/[[ArchEnemy arch-foe]]? [[spoiler:Jim]] [[ArcWelding Moriarty]]. Other people might be in danger, but the fight comes down to who can be cleverer. [[spoiler:Holmes wins by faking his death, having anticipated Moriarty's plan. However, the Season 3 CliffHanger implies that Moriarty may have had an ace up his sleeve after all]].

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* ''ComicStrip/BeetleBailey''. BeetleBailey and Sergeant Snorkel are constantly trying to outwit each other as Beetle tries to avoid work or otherwise get on Sarge's nerves.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The final confrontation in ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' can be this, depending on your stats.
* The entire focus of the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' courtroom sections.
* One of the side-quests in the Original Campaign which comes with ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' has you hunting down an InsufferableGenius escaped criminal known as ''The Stirge''. When you find him, he offers to play a game of wits with you for his life. If you follow the example he gives you when you get to play the real game,[[spoiler: you will inevitably lose.]]

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* BugsBunny is the patron saint of this trope. Of course, most of his opponents come ill-equipped for a battle of wits, but are generally well-armed otherwise. Perhaps his worthiest opponent is self-proclaimed "super genius" Wile E. Coyote; in this case, Bugs uses Wile E.'s arrogance to his advantage.

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